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Monday, August 22, 2016

Newly Named Hearing Officer Manual Remains a Valuable Reference

Word by word—18,127 words to be exact—the Ohio Industrial Commission began reviewing the Hearing Officer Manual nearly two years ago.

All of that difficult work came to fruition on August 15, 2016 when the renamed and completely revised manual was rolled out to the public.

“The last Hearing Officer Manual major revision took place in 2001, so it was time to take a good look at it and see what changes needed to be made,” Chairman Tim Bainbridge said. “I am hopeful that the new manual will continue to be a respected training tool for our hearing officers.

Numerous IC staffers devoted many months to the wide-ranging project. 

“I’d especially like to thank Commissioners Jodie Taylor and Karen Gillmor, Chief Legal Counsel Rachael Black and Director of Adjudicatory Services Tom Connor,” Chairman Bainbridge said. “Also instrumental to the process and deserving of thanks are Assistant Legal Counsel Greg Hickman and Jennifer Rohrbaugh, Hearing Officer Trainer Genevieve Hoffman, and Administrative Assistants Kim Ferkany, Debbie Fodey, and Casaundra Johnson. I also appreciate the contributions from Kim White, Barb Beasy, Robin Hossfeld and Russ Keith.”

The manual review began in October 2014 and resulted in eight extensive Commission meetings over that period.

“The Office of Legal Counsel and the Director of Adjudicatory Services worked closely in reviewing each policy memo to ensure each policy was still relevant while making recommendations when new policies were needed,” Chief Legal Counsel Rachael Black said.

A few of the major changes to the new manual are listed below:

  • Changed the title from “Hearing Officer Manual” to “Adjudications before the Ohio Industrial Commission” in order to more appropriately include IC commissioners and hearing administrators;
  • Revised multiple sections of the manual in their entirety;
  • Split “Injury-Employer” section into two different sections;
  • Removed the “Impairment of Earning Capacity” section;
  • Added 14 new policies;
  • Removed 13 obsolete or unnecessary policies; and
  • Substantively changed several current policies.

The new “Adjudications before the Ohio Industrial Commission” Quick Link is located at https://www.ic.ohio.gov in PDF format. The PDF includes bookmarks and a table of contents that links to each section of the manual for easy navigation.